The ever-increasing seasonal traffic on Commercial Street needs to be addressed now. Here are two ideas on how to reduce it:

Use the Ocean Gateway visitor center as a visitor entry point and dispatch center for all tourists arriving by cruise ships and charter tour buses. The many charter buses could take the Franklin Street exit from Interstate 295 and drop passengers there. There’s plenty of room for the buses to both turn around and park, keeping them off Commercial Street.

Cruise ships already dock in that area. The building appears to have plenty of room for water taxis, land tour operators and water tour operators to set up a dispatch center, and it has nice bathrooms.

Moving the Portland tour operators down there would still keep them near their regular routes – for cruise ships, the operators often pick up passengers down near the Gateway anyway. Moving these operators and the large charter buses down to that area would appreciably lessen the traffic jams on Commercial Street.

Convert the Top of the Old Port parking lot into a multistory garage. It’s a great location, and an easy walk to Exchange Street. In addition, a multistory garage in that location would not cut off many current residential views.

Again, it’s near an I-295 exit, so it could be used to draw a lot of traffic off the highway before it ever reaches Commercial Street.

These ideas are a start at trying to use current resources in an effective and pragmatic way in order to solve a real and growing problem.

Susanne Newman


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